Scientists are trying to bring extinct species back from the dead. Will they recreate something dangerous?
In the March 19th edition of the New York Times, Gina Kolata quotes geneticist George Church as saying, "Maybe we can no longer delay death, but we can reverse it."
So far only one extinct species has been brought back: A goat-like creature that went extinct in 1999. In 2003, it was cloned from frozen cells, but it lived only a few minutes. Cloning needs an intact cell, which, in an extinct species, may not exist. If it works, the embryo must be implanted in a closely related species.
Geneticists have attempted to clone a frog that went extinct 250 years ago, but so far they have only been able to create embryos which have died.
About 2 to 3% of existing human DNA seems to be relics of Neanderthal DNA (different people have different amounts of this).
Kolata quotes museum curator Ross MacPhee as saying, "Who will be doing this and what are the regulations? As usual, our technological capacity outstrips what it all means."
She quotes researcher Hank Greely as saying "There are a lot of cool things that died within the last 200,000 years" and, when it comes to passenger pigeons, "We are the murderers. We killed them off. Shouldn’t we bring them back?"
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